September 24, 2014

Fermentation Diaries: Kale Shmim

Fermentation Diaries: Kale ShmimLike I've mentioned before, my darling friend Biz used to ferment mixed veggies when we lived together in college and taught me the wondrous ways of fermentation. Cabbage, greens, carrots, garlic, peppers...all magically thrown together to make a delicious kimchi-like experience. I recently saw her in the beginning of the summer and asked her what she used to call these mixes and she told me "Shmimchi" (like kimchi, but shmim!) This is my fermenting comfort zone- Nate and I always have mason jars in the fridge filled with different combinations.
Fermentation Diaries: Kale ShmimFermenting can be daunting at first, but it's really the easiest thing. And fermented foods are essential for gut (and overall!) health. Plus you can extend the life of your garden into the fall and winter! But if you don't have a garden, it's still super cool to extend the shelf-life of other veggies. I'm definitely not an expert and I have a ton to learn, but here is my process from when I recently fermented some of the last of our harvest this season (mostly kale!)Fermentation Diaries: Kale ShmimWhat you'll need:
-Kale (I harvested a TON and basically just used enough to fill my mason jar)
-Carrots (about a cup, chopped)
-Peppers (I used different kinds from our garden, chopped with seeds)
-8 garlic cloves, cut into quarters
-1 red onion, coarsely chopped
-Water (about 5 cups)
-Salt (about 5 tablespoons)
-1 big bowl (large enough to hold all veggies while submerged in water)
-1 gallon mason jar
-Paper towel
-Rubber band
Fermentation Diaries: Kale ShmimFermentation Diaries: Kale Shmim1. My first step is always to wash the veggies. While the veggies are in the sink, make a brine of about 5 cups of  room temperature water mixed with 5 tablespoons of sea salt in a big bowl. Stir until all mixed in and the water tastes salty.
2. Place the kale and carrots into the bowl so they are submerged under the brine. The kale can be any size you would like, but I like to kind of tear it apart into smaller pieces before putting in the brine. Leave the kale and carrots in the bowl covered with a towel for a few hours. To keep them under the water, I put a little plate on top of them.
Fermentation Diaries: Kale Shmim3. After a few hours, it's time to move everything into the mason jar. It's super important when fermenting or canning to make sure that your hands are clean and that your supplies are sterilized. This part always used to scare me, but it's really easy! For the mason jar, I make sure it's washed and then I pour boiling water into it and onto the outside. I used to be more anal about it, but it's really simple and important to just have trust in yourself and your cleaning abilities :)
4. Once the mason jar was dried, I poured a bit of the brine into it. Then I layered my veggies: kale, carrots, garlic, onion and peppers. A bit more of brine, then more veggies. At the end, the veggies should be fully submerged under the brine in the mason jar. My best tip? Use your hands! It's the most fun and it totally feels like a science experiment when you're pushing the veggies into the brine.Fermentation Diaries: Kale Shmim5. Lastly, place a paper towel over the top of the mason jar and secure with a rubber band. I leave the mason jar out on the kitchen counter for about a week. It's important to check your shmim regularly to make sure that the veggies are always submerged under the brine. If they aren't, you can press the veggies down as often as you need to. A trick I learned from Wild Fermentation is to fill a plastic baggie with your leftover brine and place that on top of the veggies before covering with the paper towel. This will ensure that your veggies stay submerged, and it won't be a big deal if it leaks.
Fermentation Diaries: Kale Shmim6. After about a week, you can cover the mason jar with a lid and place into the fridge. I made this batch about four days ago, so it isn't ready to go in the fridge yet, but I can't wait to try it! We have so many fun varieties of peppers, so I'm hoping that it'll have a nice flavor. I'll definitely share more next week!
Fermentation Diaries: Kale ShmimNate and I are going to the Boston Fermentation Festival this weekend. I am SO excited, not only to be surrounded by amazing fermented food and fun folks, but also because SANDOR KATZ will be there! I am such a nerdy fan girl, and I cannot wait to hear him speak (and hopefully get my beloved copy of Wild Fermentation signed!) xx Courtney

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